The IAM notes for example that van drivers are almost twice as likely as car drivers to use hand-held mobile phones – 2.7% compared to 1.4% of car drivers, according to figures from the Department for Transport – and that the majority are using a phone in their hand rather than holding it to their ear, according to the research.
Furthermore, this trend comes at a time when van traffic is growing rapidly, and research suggests that increased van use may be substituting for HGVs. Factors include the lower wages of van drivers, the rise in home deliveries and, lastly, the fact that both the fleet management and drivers of vans are less regulated than HGVs.
“There is no additional test or qualification required to drive a van, over the basic car licence,” IAM RoadSmart’s Director of Policy & Research, Neil Greig, said. “This compares directly to drivers of HGVs, who must undertake a test in the vehicle they drive and continued professional development through the driver Certificate of Professional Competence. As more and more orders are made online, it is very likely that the increased growth in the number of van drivers will continue.
“But whether your fleet is made up of vans or HGVs, the same corporate manslaughter laws apply and as an employer it is not enough to assume that just holding a driving licence will keep your drivers safe. With additional pressures on them, including often overly optimistic delivery schedules, van drivers face challenges that car drivers rarely will.
“With the Christmas delivery surge approaching, be stringent in your risk assessment process and ensure every individual you have on the road receives the training they need to get their valuable cargo and themselves delivered on time and in one piece.”
While companies may feel that managing driver risk is difficult, and perhaps costly, the reality is very different. The essential tasks of checking licences and risk assessing drivers are both done online, meaning costs are low and fulfilment is easy and quick. By completing these tasks, companies identify those most at-risk and can prioritise further training.